Saved by the Bell; rugby fueled by freshman


Freshman DeShon Bell carries the ball during a rugby practice at Valley Road Playfields, Monday, Feb. 10.

Jonah Simental | Evergreen Club Sports reporter

The last couple weekends have proved nothing but triumphant for the Washington State men’s rugby club. Following a win over the Boise State Broncos earlier this month, the club defeated Idaho 61-5 this past Saturday.

The win gives WSU a 5-1 record and a top spot in the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference.

Freshman outside center DeShon Bell was a key contributor to the team’s success, scoring four tries and bringing his season try total to nine and his season point total to 45 for the club.

“My team helped me score four tries,” Bell said. “I was set up by my teammates to score. We all put in a lot of work preparing for the game and it showed on the field.”  

Head Coach Matt Hudson, a former Cougar rugby player, focuses on using his backline athletes like Bell and inside center Josh Vizcaya to gain field position and score.

“The game plan against Idaho was to move the ball wide and get the ball into the hands of our athletes in space,” Hudson said. “We know that Idaho likes to keep things in close and tight and we wanted to get them out of that game plan early and often.”

Bell is a former high school football player from Shelton, Wash. who recently spent a couple days down in Tempe, Ariz. where he tried out to be a member of the Junior All-American Under-20 Eagles squad.

Bell did not make the squad, but his invitation alone is a testament to his skill as an athlete.

Hudson said Bell has areas in which he can still improve, but noted he also has a lot of the characteristics of an ideal rugby player. Hudson suggested Bell fine-tune his game to achieve his international rugby aspirations.

In a strong start to a four-year rugby career at WSU, Bell is not slowing down his development as a student and an athlete. His mindset and pre-game rituals do not change, and his game performance reflects his determination.

He said no matter the opponent, he enters each contest focused on both his responsibilities as an individual and executing the team’s game plan.

With a deep post-season run in their sights, Bell said the countless hours Coach Hudson dedicates to maintain the program and the way he helps develop the players illustrates how great of a coach he is.

Up next for Bell and the rugby club is a weekend road match against Montana.

“We have several A-plus caliber athletes and we want them to have the ball in their hands to use their explosiveness,” Hudson said. “Everyone on this team is talented enough to handle their position, we got to see some of that against Idaho with a few players making their first starts, or first starts at a new position.”